The Tybee Post Theater moved closer to raising the curtain when we received an unexpected donation of slightly more than $100,000 from a donor with ties to Tybee who asked to remain anonymous.
It’s the largest single donation ever received by the Friends of Tybee Theater, the non-profit organization charged with restoring and reopening the Theater.
“It’s from an individual who has strong connections on Tybee and has a deep appreciation for what a performing arts and cultural center can do for our island,” says Jim Kluttz, president of the Theater board of directors. “He believes our island really needs a community gathering place where we can experience the arts together, be it movies, music, plays, dance performances. You name it. This Theater will be that place.”
The donation, which came in the form of stock that the board sold for $106,000, was deposited into a new restoration fund dedicated solely to the Theater renovation. Along with two foundation grants also received this spring, the new funding is a much-needed boost to this rehabilitation project more than a decade in the works.
The Theater board will add a $500,000 construction loan to the restoration fund and use that money to begin renovation on the auditorium and reopen the Post Theater, hopefully by the end of the year.
The construction loan will cover the cost of heating and air conditioning, insulation, an electrical upgrade, the installation of permanent theater seating, and the construction of a platform to stage live productions. The Theater then will be able operate as Tybee’s only venue for plays, music, movies, community meetings and special events with a permanent occupancy permit from the city.
The money in the restoration fund is not enough to completely finish the theater. The architects will work up a final price tag, which we will announce later this summer. In the meantime, we’ll have to rent or borrow theatrical lighting and a sound system for live performances, as well as a digital projection system and screen for movies.
“But the exciting news is that this substantial donation and the construction loan will push this restoration project forward in a meaningful way,” says Melissa Turner, new executive director of the Theater. “Tybee is ready to get back inside the Post Theater, and we’re so glad we will now be able to make that happen.
“We still have a lot of money to raise to pay off our loan and mortgage and fund the rest of the restoration,” she emphasized. “But we know that once we can show the community the potential of this theater, they’ll embrace it and renew their support.”